Breaking Up with The Wiggle

When I moved to San Francisco, pretty much everyone thought I was crazy for intending to continue to commute by bike to work. “The Hills!” they’d warn. (I guess nobody remembered that my Seattle commute home was straight up a hill.)

But San Franciscans have a not-so-secret weapon: The Wiggle. This zig-zagging bike route is relatively flat and allows riders to avoid several major hills between the central neighborhoods and those in the west. Unfortunately, it’s also a gauntlet of roadway nightmares including a hair-raising section along Oak St, train tracks, and fellow cyclists that seem to have forgotten what a stop sign means.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t like this route. It’s dangerous and full of macho, competitive riders. So, I broke up with it. For my fellow cyclists who may be feeling more of the downside of the love/hate relationship with The Wiggle, I offer maps of several road-tested alternatives for commuting to work from The Richmond to Civic Center, Downtown, or SOMA.

First, The Wiggle

Distance: 4.92 miles

Hills: Practically none

Insanity: Lots

Commute Time: About 40 minutes from home to office.

Alternative #1, Balboa, Turk, McAllister: Roads Less Traveled

Distance: 4.16 miles

Hills: 135 ft climb over .6 miles coming up from Arguello to USF then downhill to flat as you roll into Civic Center.

Insanity: Minimal. Bike lanes and wide streets with little traffic make for easy riding with a handful of alternative-seeking commuters.

Commute Time: About 35 minutes from home to office.

Bonus: Only 5 blocks of Market St.

Alternative #2, Loving Haight

Distance: 4.85 miles

Hills: Nada

Insanity: This would be a crazy route other times of the day, but mornings are quiet on Haight St.

Commute Time: 40 minutes door to door.

Bonus: Fun hill bomb down Haight. Just keep an eye out for cross traffic.

Alternative #3, Presidio Heights

Distance: 5.24 miles

Hills: 122 ft climb over 1 mile right from the start but generally painless after that.

Insanity: Minimal. Bike lanes, wide streets, and mansion gawking along the way.

Commute Time: ?

Bonus: If you get doored, your lawyer will have a field day, but it’s really very safe.

Screenshots from MapMyRIDE

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